Dr. Dennis Drayna, NIDCD, Explores Developments
in Genetics and Neuroscience of Stuttering


Contact: Greg Wilson

New York City (May 16, 2019) — To mark Stuttering Awareness Week (May 13-19), the Stuttering Foundation held its annual gala at the Lotos Club in New York City featuring guest speaker Dr. Dennis Drayna, Chief, Laboratory of Communication Disorders and Chief, Section on Genetics of Communication Disorders of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Drayna updated attendees from the stuttering community about recent research in the fields of genetics and neuroscience of Stuttering.

“Basic biomedical research can be painstaking and unpredictable,” said Dr. Drayna. “Understanding the basic biological mechanisms that underlie a disorder not only tells us about that disorder, but it allows us to potentially use developments that come from studies of other disorders that arise due to similar mechanisms. This can produce important, unexpected synergies with research on other disorders – A rising tide floats all boats!”

During his keynote address, Dr. Drayna gave an overview of his stuttering genetics research, including the genes they had found, the discovery of what the products of those genes do, and how this information has led to an understanding of underlying defects in stuttering. In addition, he discussed research published by other scientists showing how pharmacological approaches to this new type of neurological disease mechanism can lead to small molecule agents that reverse such defects in other neurologic disorders.

He also discussed creation of a “mouse model” of stuttering and how it has allowed researchers to integrate molecular findings with systems neuroscience approaches to understand stuttering at a cellular and brain connectivity scale.

Dr. Drayna concluded that research is starting to reveal the deficits present in stuttering at the molecular level, stating this knowledge is a prerequisite for, and can now allow for, development of potential new therapeutics for stuttering that, for the first time, would be based on a known cause of stuttering.

“Dr. Drayna, who as a private citizen, serves on the Stuttering Foundation’s Board in addition to his work at NIH, reminds us all that there is ongoing, strident research into the causes and treatment of stuttering,” said Stuttering Foundation president Jane Fraser.

About the Foundation

Malcolm Fraser, a successful businessman who struggled with stuttering, established and endowed the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation in 1947. The Foundation provides free online resources at StutteringHelp.org for people who stutter and their families as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering. For more information, visit www.StutteringHelp.org.

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